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XX-rated: meet Ferrari's stash of super-exclusive XX cars

Only a few Ferraris have earned the right to be in the XX club. We meet the cars that made the cut

Published: 19 Feb 2024

Not so much a range of cars as perhaps the most exclusive automotive club there’s ever been. Membership: about 116. Cars, that is – probably considerably fewer people given many will own more than one.

You, me and 99.999999 per cent of car nuts are not members of this club. And if you’re anything like me, you’re not sure that you want to be either. The problem is that Ferrari can often come across as arrogant and aloof, it often doesn’t feel like a company that cares about you and me. It’s a global luxury brand, it’s for the wealthy, we see the branding, the merch and the stores and it leaves us cold. Where, you wonder, is the passion you’ve heard all about? The stuff that makes the tifosi tick?

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It’s in this room. But not in the XX cars. There are other distractions here. The huge ground floor windows of the Attività Sportive GT building that houses the XX cars look out over Fiorano racetrack’s main straight. Over the course of the day the glass will tremble as first an SF90, then a Purosangue and finally a camo’d fruity piped Roma charge round. They’re minor distractions. The major ones are a reminder of what Ferrari does best and why we should care.

Photography: Mark Riccioni 

Three brand new, raw carbon 296 GT3s are parked in the hall, just finished and ready to head off to race teams. Boxes of spare parts are shoved inside. Wide-arched and sinister, they look sensational. Come round the corner and there, from floor to lofty ceiling, is an entire wall of endurance racing trophies. Hundreds of them on glass shelves, including 2023's Le Mans win silverware. And the 499P you see here? That’s not the €5.1m Modificata that Ferrari recently announced, but the actual Le Mans winner.

You think that’s the best thing? Nah. Here’s the biggie – up the shallow spiral staircase, ignoring the view out over the XX machinery and there, in another airy hall, lurk examples of just about every F1 car since the mid-Eighties. More precious scarlet here than at a blood bank.

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Racing. That’s why you should care about Ferrari. That’s why Italy cares about Ferrari. Not just F1, but Le Mans and GTs too. The merch may support the road cars, but the road cars support the racing. And somewhere in the middle there you’ll find the XX programme. One step beyond both road and racing.

Ferrari, as befits its position as the world’s pre-eminent supercar marque, was the first to go beyond, to realise that road cars don’t have to stop where racing begins. It wasn’t just that there was overlap, but that a fantasy land existed where you could create cars that weren’t subject to either road homologation or race regulation. Both impose stringent rules: in racing to level the playing field, in road to ensure cars are clean, safe and so on.

 

And so along came the track only hypercar. These are not homologation specials such as we saw back in the Nineties when firms as diverse as Nissan, Porsche, Toyota and Merc built sufficient road cars to permit them to go racing. Nor are they bespoke one make racers – step forward BMW’s M1 Procar and Jaguar’s XJR-15. No, this class takes as its premise that there are people out there who want a track car, but don’t want to race. These people are not racing drivers. They’re track day-ists. That’s a group we recognise and admire. They enjoy their cars so much that road alone is not enough.

Ferrari was clever enough to realise that a select group of these people had so much money that they’d shell out for a bespoke track day car. Provided the support package was good enough – building them an FXX to go and chase MX-5s and Clios around Bedford Autodrome was not going to work. Ferrari’s stroke of genius was realising these people wanted the whole track experience, from mechanics and catering to matching romper suits and data analysis.

XX. The name came from the Enzo. The development codename for the 2002 flagship supercar was FX. It made sense to just bolt on another X for its track only derivative, and for that brace of initials to form the basis for the whole shebang. The development of the first car wasn’t particularly unusual, following the regular template for Making Cars Go Fast on Track: lower weight (-100kg), more power (+150bhp), more aero (+40 per cent downforce) and of course that other well known facet of performance: fewer of them. There were 399 Enzos. FXXs? Just 29. Sorry 30 – they built another, all in black, as a thank you to a certain Michael Schumacher. When the FXX went on sale in 2005 at €1.5m before tax, it was the most expensive new car there’d ever been, half a million more than a Veyron.

It remains a brutally cool looking thing. The upswept windows, the little castellated turret wings on the back corners, the tiny eye sockets... it’s not pretty, but boy was it effective. OK, as much performance advantage came from the slick tyres as the extra power, but a 1m 17s Fiorano lap time meant it was a whole five seconds faster than a regular Enzo. At Dunsfold it posted a time over six seconds faster than anything else.

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And then Ferrari made a faster one. The 2007 Pacchetto Evoluzione was another canny move, introducing some slight upgrades – in this case a retuned engine giving the 6.3-litre V12 a healthy uplift from 789bhp to 848bhp, a tweak to the downforce for another 85kg at 124mph (425kg total) and a speeding up of the gearbox (60ms shifts instead of 100ms). Some new cars were built and some/many/most of the existing FXXs were converted to Evo specification. This is where the numbers get hazy and Ferrari is in no hurry to set the record straight. It took another second out of the Fiorano lap time, but gave XX a level of mystique that no other automotive sub-brand has ever matched.

The 599XX came along in 2010 and offered something new by being front-engined and therefore a different thing for your collection – a collection, incidentally, that you could keep at home. Rumours that Ferrari kept the XX cars at the factory and dictated when and where you could drive them were false. But another handy bit of mystique building. This XX wasn’t as much of a leap over the road car as the first had been, but 720bhp working on 1,345kg was oodles. Plus it had wonderful little aero flicks behind the doors that contributed to 280kg of downforce at 124mph. They disappeared when the Evo version arrived a year later, replaced by a full-blooded rear wing with integrated DRS. It was a second faster around Fiorano (1m 15s) and posted a claimed 6m 58.2s ’Ring lap.

Non-owners getting to drive XX cars is a vanishingly rare experience

As I walk around the 17 XX cars currently resting in here, I keep coming back to the original 599XX. It seems owners do too. All of these cars earn a sticker every time they attend one of Ferrari’s Corse Clienti days at FIA-sanctioned circuits, and the 599s seem to wear more than any others. More flattering to drive perhaps? We’ve never found out. Non-owners getting to drive XX cars is a vanishingly rare experience – but one Chris Harris got to fulfil in the FXX-K.

What a name. Well done Ferrari for having the guts to name it after the word most people utter when they see it coming. It’s a monster. The nipped in waist, the spine fin, the pointed nose, the sheer thundering aggression and drama of it. This is when XX went hybrid. The V12 revved well beyond 9,000rpm and developed 848bhp, but the KERS system – borrowed from F1, not the LaFerrari this was based on – boosted this to 1,036bhp.

This was nearly 10 years ago. An Evo version followed in 2017 with the same power, but 23 per cent more downforce. And it now looks like that was it for XX. Ferrari, for the sake of appearances, will continue to claim outwardly that the SF90 XX is one of the family, but I bet that’s not what it’s telling owners of these cars.

What comes next then? There ought to be a new flagship hypercar along in the next 12-18 months, at least if Ferrari sticks to its rough once-a-decade timescale laid down since the F40. Maybe we’ll get an XX version of that. But I doubt it. The SF90 XX has spoiled the lineage and the brand kudos. Ferrari has other temptations. It’s been selling the ultimate motorsport dream to the super rich for years via its F1 Clienti programme and will bolster that with a new offshoot: Sport Prototipi Clienti. That’s the umbrella put over the 499P Modificata.

10 minutes 54 seconds

God, the Le Mans winner looks astonishing here. How they’re going to get non-racing jockey clients into it beats me. Bigger doors, I suspect. It’ll be an intense, draining thing to drive – designed to run for 24 hours, but likely to be doing stints of 24 minutes. Ferrari hasn’t yet said how many will be built, although the €5.1m list price does cover two years of the programme, including maintenance and an engineering team.

There won’t be trickle-down into the road cars from that one. That was always the claim about XX, that it helped develop the next generation – a sort of magnanimous trickle-down effect from billionaire to millionaire. Any truth in that? Some. Possibly. Developing these small batch, short timescale cars allowed Ferrari to be more creative and bolder without having to finesse to road car levels. That can’t but help rub off. And then you get to test them at customer clinics that the customers are paying for. Genius move.

Only Ferrari could have pulled XX off. It’s the only brand in the world to have the necessary pedigree, clout, prestige, size and sheer confidence to build a range of track only hypercars. Others have made one-offs – Porsche’s 935 and GT3 R rennsport, Aston Martin has given us Vulcan and Valkyrie AMR Pro, Pagani R versions of the Zonda and Huayra, the Bugatti Bolide arrives this year. McLaren has adhered to the template most with its GTR programme, but it isn’t as exotic, compelling or multifaceted as Ferrari’s.

Yeah, XX is both exclusive and excluding, but I really hope it’s not over, that Ferrari can find a deft way to push the SF90 to one side as a road legal XX one-off and let the track magic continue.

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